SPOKANE, Wash. - Lutheran Community Services Northwest received a grant a hire a special nurse to collect evidence after a sexual assault.
Director of Victim Advocacy and Education at Lutheran Community Services Erin Williams-Hueter said they received a $157,000 grant from the Washington State Office of Crime Victims Advocacy. The grant will give them an opportunity to hire a sexual assault nurse examiner or SANE. This person would have special expertise in collecting evidence after a sexual assault. This specialized nurse would be available to all hospitals in the Spokane County.
"We've got specialized law enforcement officers, we've got specialized prosecutors, we've got specialized advocates, and the next piece of the puzzle is that specialized nurse,” said Williams-Hueter.
Over the past few decades there has been many efforts to get a SANE program started in the Spokane area.
"I think it's very important not that all nurse can't do a great job, because they certainly can and we've seen really inexperienced nurses do a super job but the protocol for doing a sexual assault forensic medical examine is big, it's quite thick and if you are not experienced with it can take really long time,” said Williams-Hueter.
Williams-Hueter said this nurse would be up-to-date on current ways to conduct medical examinations on victims and ultimately cut down on the time the victim is in the ER.
"Once you've been through the worst moment in your life the last thing you want to do is spend five hours in the hospital emergency department while the medical staff is reading through the protocols to make sure that they carefully collect your evidence and keep your case intact for the criminal justice system,” said Williams-Hueter.
This week, Lutheran Community Services staff will begin the interview process for candidates. Williams-Hueter said they have heard from applicants from all over the Western United States.
Lutheran Community Services hope to bring in more sexual assault nurse examiners in coming years. They want to have a 24/7 system.
"We couldn't be more thrilled for what it means for survivors in the Spokane area," said Willaims-Hueter.